George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
On January 15 every year, Nigerians mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day in commemoration of the fallen heroes who fought the country’s various wars. However, this annual ritual is meant for only Nigerian military without the Biafra war veterans.
Probably, this was what Mr. Boniface Alanwoke, a journalist and the publisher of Igbozuruoke Forum saw when he started to organise a weekly get-together for the League of Ngor Okpala Biafra War Veterans.
Alanwoke told Daily Sun that he decided to organise the year get-together to give a sense of belonging to the war veterans from Ngor Okpala who have been abandoned by Ndigbo:
“I am happy, the veterans have continued to demonstrate a high level of discipline and moral standard despite the increasing insensitivity, neglects and provocations by their Igbo brethren who they laid down their lives to defend and protect during the civil war.
“You must continue to demonstrate this sense of responsibility at a time when everything seems to be going asunder and more Igbo people seem to be losing their minds through betrayals caused by unmitigated quests for political ambitions and unbridle pursuit of filthy lucre; your attitude and exemplary disposition are making the difference and showing the right way.
“If God grants me the grace in 2018, my pre-occupation will be to ensure you access quality health care, since one of your major problems today, due to old age and long-time neglect, are health related issues.
“Therefore, I enjoin you to keep the flag flying by being your brother’s keeper. If you remember you shed your blood in defence of Ndigbo when it mattered most, then you will heed this advice for the sake of the Igbo nation. When you see your members who could not attend this party due to one problem or another, tell them what I have just said. Once more, I sincerely appreciate your sacrifices; remain strong and be blessed.”
Lt. Levi Oshionya (retd), the co-coordinator of the group, thanked Alanwoko for deeming it necessary to fete the veterans who have been forgotten by their brothers after the civil war.
Oshionya who is equally Chief Ogbuhereuzo 1 of Ubichukwu Autonomous Community in Ngor-Okpala, said: “For about 40 years now, my colleagues and myself in Ngor-Opkala, as well as other Biafran war veterans residing in other parts of Nigeria have decided to keep our fate in the hands of God.
“Most of our colleagues could not attend this occasion due to health challenges, poverty or the means to even get to this location. Like the saying goes, he who is rejected does not reject himself.
“Under the initiative of Mr. Alanwoko, we come together every last Sunday of the month to see how we can help one another and keep ourselves happy. We are particularly appealing for help from any quarter in the area of medicare and for inputs that would give us sustainable economic survival.”
Oshionya called on the Federal Government to include the Biafra veterans in the proposed payment for former Nigeria policemen who later served in Biafra, saying that most of the veterans had worked in the federal establishment before joining the Biafra Army at the outbreak of the war.
“We should be included in the proposed payment for former Nigeria Police officers who were serving in the Eastern Region and later joined the Biafra police or Army at the outbreak of the civil war.
“Most of us who had fought in the Biafra war had worked for federal establishment like the P& T and were never paid. We had thought that with the proclamation of General Yakubu Gowon of ‘No Victor, No Vanguished’ that we would have been rehabilitated, but that was never done and ever since we have been treated as conquered people. It is even worst with our own people, especially the political leaders who have equally abandoned us to die unsung.”